By Kris Smith
The Stars had played just their last game of 2021 and first of the New Year before being placed back into Covid Protocol.
Two losses against Belfast Giants and Fife Flyers in their brief return to action has left the Stars players hungry for points as they welcome the Storm to Dundee this evening. You can buy tickets for tonight’s game HERE or watch LIVE from home HERE!
Although their opposition have not faired any better and are without a win in their last four matches, with a 3-1 loss to Glasgow Clan on Tuesday evening being the most recent defeat.
Tonight, will be Manchester’s fifth game in nine days and also Dundee’s first of six home games over the next 16 days.
Across the three previous meetings between the two teams this season, every match has been won by the home team and so far, Manchester have two victories to Dundee’s one.
The 6-2 and 4-3 defeats in Altrincham gave the Tayside team a burning desire to finally take points away from Ryan Finnerty’s men and they did just that in November, with a 3-2 win in Scotland.
A brace from Philippe Sanche and a lone goal from Connor Sills lifted the Stars to a 3-2 win, as Cameron Critchlow and Adam Brady found the net for the visitors.
The Stars top scorers in this matchup are Charlie Combs (1G, 2A), Dillon Lawrence (3A) and Gabriel Desjardins (3A).
Meanwhile, Brady (4G) and Critchlow (3G) have netted the most times against Dundee this season.
Dundee have also faced all three of Manchester’s goalkeepers across their three ties in this campaign and their only victory came against Jason Bacashihua.
However, James Downie – son of former Stars and Strom goalie, Colin Downie – also gave up three goals in the 4-3 win for the Strom, while Matt Ginn kept the Scots to just two in the first clash of the season.
The only player guaranteed to miss tonight’s match is Dundee defender, Kris Inglis with a lower body injury that has kept him out since November 14.
Stars Head Coach, Omar Pacha is hoping his well-rested side will be up to the task against the match-fit Storm.
“Manchester have been playing some decent hockey but just not getting any results, so we know they are going to come out hard”, said Pacha.
“They stayed over in Glasgow yesterday and they are skating again today, so there is still some home ice advantage for us, but we are aware that they will be fresh too and that they are probably more match fit than we are.
“So, hopefully we all step up, we play hard and smart, especially against a good side like Manchester and we stay disciplined.”
Heading into their first game in 10 days, the Stars boss added: “It feels weird again as we are coming out of our second time of being in COVID Protocol, but I think there is a slight advantage here.
“Some guys were able to skate and we are fresh, so we will just go shift by shift and the guys are all really excited to play again.
“We have been through a lot as a group in the last few weeks and now it looks like it is potentially behind us, so we can move forward now and focus on tonight’s game.”
Stars forward, Dillon Lawrence then added his thoughts on getting back out there.
He said: “We are excited to get back again!
“We had a slow start coming back from the first isolation and got put right back in, but it gave us time to refocus.
“There are a few big games ahead and getting to play at home a lot is great after quite a road heavy start to the year.
“We will need to get back to what made us successful before the interruption, which means focusing on playing our way and not getting away from things by getting too excited to be back again.
“We know our position in the standings does not reflect what we have in the locker room and now we have a good opportunity to get ourselves back to a good position heading into the second half of the year.
“We just need to take it!”
Face-off times tonight’s game in Dundee is at 7:30pm and crowd capacity is still limited to 200 spectators, with tickets being sold online only.